Roof rescue
Two Santa Barbara residents were physically unhurt in this rooftop rescue, but their ordeal inside the house was frightful. (Contributed photo)

Congratulations to brand-new Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse who, after being sworn in Jan. 11, delivered an uplifting message intended to unify the community rather than divide it.

It was by far the finest political speech that day.

According to our Google Analytics, an audience of 102,703 readers clicked with Noozhawk this past week. What follows is my own recap of the Top 5 stories you were reading over the last seven days.

For the record, this is my opinion column. It is not a news story.

1. Mother Shares Nightmare Scenario: Intruder in Her Santa Barbara Home

A Santa Barbara woman and her teenage daughter were rescued from the roof of their home Jan. 6 after a brazen break-in by a transient.

While the two residents safely escaped out a second-story bathroom window, Santa Barbara police set up a perimeter and tried to convince the man to surrender.

As our Tom Bolton first reported, the erratically behaving suspect refused, and the standoff continued for four hours. A SWAT unit eventually entered the house in the 4100 block of San Martin Way, across Highway 154 from Bishop Diego High School, and arrested the man.

The suspect, a transient identified as 27-year-old German Hernandez Jr., was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for a medical evaluation, then booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on several felony charges and a couple of misdemeanors.

The story was downright bizarre, but the reality was absolutely terrifying for the mother and daughter. It turns out that the mom’s dad is a good friend of mine, and he put us in touch with her.

While Tom’s first story just missed making last week’s Top 5 by a few hundred reads, his follow-up interview with my friend’s daughter quickly seized the top spot in this week’s Best of Bill column. It’s been drawing steady traffic all week.

The day began less than routinely for the woman — who requested that Noozhawk not disclose her family’s last name — because her 14-year-old daughter had injured her wrist and was waiting to go see a doctor about it.

The woman’s husband and their two other children had left for work and school, respectively, and she jumped into the shower around 9 a.m. while awaiting a return call from an orthopedist.

Uncharacteristically, the family dog, Mochi, had started barking nonstop so she had confined the golden doodle to the upstairs master bedroom to allow her daughter to sleep in.

While in the shower, she got a text from her daughter: “There’s a man in my bathroom across from my room.”

That’s not a message any parent expects to receive, and she immediately jumped out of the shower.

Her daughter texted that the man somehow had gotten into the house and apparently decided to take a shower of his own. He “was cursing and talking about murdering someone,” she added.

The girl ran upstairs as the mom was running out while calling 9-1-1. They barricaded the master bedroom door as best they could and locked themselves in the bathroom until police arrived a few minutes later.

Santa Barbara firefighters also responded, and set up a ladder to the roof.

“When police started to come up the ladder, I knew I could send my daughter out …” the woman told Tom. “I basically threw her out the window.”

The woman followed but police and firefighters were not able to rescue Mochi.

“We just could not get the dog out; we had to leave him,” she said. “It was terribly heartbreaking.”

Fortunately, Mochi was unharmed in the incident. Mother and daughter were not hurt either — physically, that is — but you can imagine the emotional ordeal.

“It was extremely terrifying, especially being alone in the shower,” the woman said. “You don’t know if he has a weapon, and don’t know if he intends harm.”

Afterward, she added, her daughter “couldn’t stop trembling, and I was actually shaking, too.”

The suspect created a huge mess during his home invasion, including broken items, spilled liquids and extensive damage to rugs. The family had to go to a hotel so a crew could spend the night cleaning up and sanitizing the house.

Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale said Hernandez was taken into custody after a brief struggle with SWAT officers, who found him hiding in an upstairs closet.

Ragsdale said Hernandez was booked into County Jail on suspicion of committing a felony while out on bail, burglary and looting during a state of emergency, all felonies, along with resisting arrest and prowling, both misdemeanors.

Hernandez, he added, had just been released from jail on bail the day before the incident. As of Jan. 14, he’s being held without bail.

Although her sense of security has been shaken to its core, the woman told Tom that she was heartened by the public safety response — from police and fire personnel on the scene and 9-1-1 dispatchers on the phone — and the overwhelming and immediate embrace from her neighbors.

She also was enormously proud of her daughter’s composure and courage throughout the nightmare as they listened to the intruder ranting, raving and wrecking their home.

“I think that we don’t do any favors to our community when we stay silent,” she said of her decision to share her story with Noozhawk. “We need to come together, to protect each other and look out for each other.”

Although she said she “was driven to get my daughter to safety,” she added that “I really hope that — our county, our city — we start really addressing some of the issues with our homeless.”

2. BizHawk: J.J.’s Diner on State Street Shuts Its Doors After One Year

JJ’s Diner

One problem for J.J.’s Diner in downtown Santa Barbara? An absence of people. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

J.J.’s Diner, which opened a little over a year ago in downtown Santa Barbara, has closed, becoming the latest eatery to bite the dust at 413 State St.

As our Josh Molina reported, the breakfast-and-lunch restaurant featured California eggs benedict, Chorizo benedict, corned beef hash and eggs, omelettes, pancakes, burgers, churros, apple pie, milkshakes and a kids menu — among other comfort foods.

Juan Jimenez, whose family owns the successful Cajun Kitchen empire, launched the namesake diner in December 2020. It emerged from the ashes of his previous business, Onus Donuts, which had the misfortune of opening just before COVID-19 struck and wasn’t able to survive the government shutdowns, lockdowns and slowdowns.

Prior to Jimenez taking over the space, it had been home to the ill-fated Urkeb, a German street food place that lasted about a year before closing abruptly in 2018.

I don’t know if the address is cursed, but the 400 block of State Street definitely is a challenge. When the City of Santa Barbara decided to turn most of State Street downtown into a pedestrian promenade, it started with the 500 block, depriving the 400 block of crucial foot traffic.

3. Bill Macfadyen: Decades of Sexual Abuse Exposed in Cate School’s Shameful Report

Cate School: “The best day of school starts here.” Apparently, it’s what happens after school that has created such a mess up on Cate Mesa.

4. County Firefighter-Paramedic Dies in Skiing Crash at China Peak

Joey DeAnda funeral procession

A somber return to Santa Maria for Santa Barbara County firefighter-paramedic Joey DeAnda after his fatal Sierra skiing accident. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A 33-year-old Santa Barbara County firefighter-paramedic was killed in a Jan. 8 Sierra skiing accident.

Joey DeAnda

Joey DeAnda was described by his fiancée, Melissa Newman, as her “forever superhero.” (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

As our Janene Scully first reported, Joseph “Joey” DeAnda suffered traumatic injuries when he struck a tree while skiing with friends at China Peak Mountain Resort near Huntington Lake, about 65 miles northeast of Fresno.

“He was wearing a helmet, however, his injuries were too significant, and he was not able to survive,” the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department said of DeAnda in a Facebook post.

County fire officials said DeAnda, a San Luis Obispo resident, had only been with the department since 2020, but he was well known and liked throughout the Central Coast.

A 2006 graduate of St. Joseph High School in Orcutt, DeAnda attended Allan Hancock College, Cuesta College and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Before joining SBCFD, he worked for American Medical Response and San Luis Ambulance; REACH Air Medical Services, which includes Calstar, and Mercy Air; and as a Santa Barbara County sheriff’s dispatcher.

With SBCFD, DeAnda was assigned to Station 26 at 1596 Tiffany Park Court in Orcutt, and he served as a medic for the sheriff’s Special Enforcement Team.

“Joey will be remembered for his positive attitude and hard work ethic,” the department posted on its Facebook page. “Joey made lasting relationships with everyone he came in contact with.

“Joey was the example that if you put your heart and mind into something, you can accomplish anything.”

A procession of first-responder vehicles escorted DeAnda’s body home to the Central Coast on Jan. 11, with public safety agencies and residents congregating to pay their respects atop highway overpasses along the route to Dudley-Hoffman Mortuary in Santa Maria.

In addition to his family, DeAnda is survived by his fiancée, Melissa Newman.

Newman, a multimedia journalist and weather anchor at KSBY in San Luis Obispo and previously at KCOY in Santa Maria, posted a heartbreaking Instagram tribute to her “forever superhero.”

“Where do I even start …,” she wrote. “Going from planning a wedding to planning a funeral is unimaginable. Joey was/is everything to me — my best friend, my cheerleader, my partner in crime …

“He worked tirelessly just to make sure I was happy, protected and loved. I am still really struggling to accept that all of this is even real.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.

The Santa Barbara County Firefighters Benevolent Foundation is handling donations for DeAnda’s family. Click here to make an online contribution.

5. 2 Seriously Injured Patients Airlifted to Hospital after Crash Near Lompoc

Helicopter rescue

Not your typical sunset view. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

A pickup truck plunged over a cliff near Lompoc on Jan. 9, requiring a dramatic helicopter rescue of the two injured occupants.

As our Tom Bolton first reported, the GMC truck went over the side of the 2000 block of Sweeney Road, east of Highway 246 near the eastern end of Lompoc, around 4:30 p.m.

Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said the pickup came to rest about 75 feet down the steep embankment.

He said county Copter 3 was dispatched to the scene to hoist the two victims — a male and a female — from the wreckage.

According to Eliason, one of the victims suffered major injuries in the crash and was flown by a Calstar medical helicopter to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. The second victim had moderate injuries and was flown to the hospital by Copter 3.

No identities or medical conditions were disclosed. The California Highway Patrol is investigating the circumstances of the wreck.

•        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? 1 Dead, Another Critically Injured in Shooting in Vehicle Near Goleta.

•        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

The Leaning Tower of San Francisco takes a tilt for the worse: Millennium Tower Now Tilting 3 Inches Per Year, According to Fix Engineer.

•        •        •

Best of Bill’s Instagram

The spotlight’s on #raisingourlight in my Instagram feed. You can read our Jade Martinez-Pogue’s story for the full report on the fourth anniversary commemoration of the deadly #montecito disaster.

•        •        •

Americans Held Hostage: Day 137

Although President Joe Biden famously pledged to get all Americans out of Afghanistan before surrendering to the Taliban, hundreds — if not thousands — of U.S. citizens and green-card holders were left behind when the last military cargo plane lumbered away 137 days ago.

After their abandonment, several nongovernmental organizations — many made up of veterans who had served in Afghanistan over the previous two decades — embarked on privately funded attempts to liberate the trapped. It was a valiant and impressive effort, with some notable successes, but volunteers, funding and resources are rapidly drying up.

•        •        •

Watch It

Not a lot of golf claps from this tough crowd. HT to my friend, Ed Edick, for the tap-in.

(PGA Tour video)

•        •        •

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at, follow him on Instagram: @bill.macfadyen, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at, and follow him on Instagram: @bill.macfadyen. The opinions expressed are his own.